nemesis's Journal

Guru.com attracts worst of worst

Wednesday 9th January, 2008

I'm ashamed to admit that one day, a few years ago, I joined Guru.com, in the hopes of scoring some easy, well-paying freelance work. Sadly, I was disappointed. Most of your competition on Guru.com comes in the form of:

  • High school script kiddies (Hourly rate: $15/hr)
  • Developers in India or Brazil (similar hourly rate).

The site is teeming with inexperienced, hopeless developers. Alas though, the plague isn't limited to the developers (which guru.com calls "Professionals"). Guru.com has a feature where they'll email you a few times a day with new projects that match your listed skillset. Initially, I thought this was rather annoying; but I soon came to realise it was rather entertaining.

It's quickly become clear to me that most of the people submitting projects have been burned by a Guru.com "professional". Too many of the projects state that you should only bid if you're an "experienced" developer, or that experienced developers can "complete this project in a few hours".

But clearly these "employers" aren't willing to put their money where their mouth is. An extraordinary number of projects have a budget of $100 or $150. At this rate, the only people they'll attract are high school kids, and offshore "programmers" (can you even call them that?).

I noted before that the "inexperienced, hopeless" plague wasn't limited to the developers. There seems to be two types of project on Guru.com: The Facebook clones, and the "I need someone to fix my code" project.

The Facebook clone is self-explainatory. Some guy thinks he can do better than Facebook or Myspace, but has no idea how to cut code. So he figures he can hire some cheap Brazilians to do it for him. Failure is pratically guaranteed.

The rest of the projects come about because either the "employer" has either written some code themselves, or paid some Guru.com hack to write code, and they need someone to fix the broken codebase. You guessed it; Budget: $100.

These guys have no idea about quality of code, and most have no idea what they're doing. Here's a great example:

PHP to Apache C Mod
I have a PHP application complete with classes that needs to be translated into an Apache C Module. The application has 15 classes, 4 include files, and 6 php pages. The php pages are rather simple because everything has been written into classes. The application does not use any special PHP extensions beside mysql.

I am looking for the PHP application to be recoded into Apache Module for performance reasons.


Gold. He's hacked together some PHP pages that presumably perform some sort of calculation. The algorithm he's implemented is probably O(n^3), or worse. Naturally, instead of blaming his poor code, he's decided that it'd be easier to hire some offshore coder to translate the application to an Apache module. Of course, he hasn't thought of the consequences of that such as; making Apache unstable, dealing with changes to the ABI when he upgrades Apache, or the fact that finding someone to maintain the module when it's written will be difficult (and probably, expensive).

Meanwhile, Guru.com provides me with a three-times-daily source of entertainment. Keep the good work up, guys.

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